Behind the Scenes: Our Gift Guide Q & A with STYLE photographer David Stuck

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STYLE’s December gift guide features 14 pages of more than 125 locally sourced presents. What was it like to photograph all those trinkets and treasures? We interviewed our staff photographer David Stuck.

Years Doing Gift Guide: 4

The setup: “There is, you could say, controlled chaos. That was the theme behind the entire two days of shooting. I work on the back end of things, so the writers go and find all of the gifts, then they go and get all the gifts and keep track all of the gifts so none of them get lost. You take the 100 items that we’ve already narrowed down, then you bring it into one room and then you lay it all out. Then you pick the items from each boutique that can be paired … then you find out what looks good together. And that process is luckily out of my hands. That’s where our creative director Kim Van Dyke and our stylist Mets Feeley come in.”

Belt and bag, Synchronicity; Tank, Alice Jane

The camerawork: “You have to make sure the camera is directly above all the items. … The camera is on a tripod and the tripod has a bracket that tilts 90 degrees, so that the camera looks directly down on the table. It’s basically a bird’s eye view of the objects. One of the hard things that the stylist keeps in mind is keeping the objects facing directly up. I am looking at one of the pictures and there is a little stuffed fox, and the stylist had to make sure that fox was facing straight up. They had to make sure the jewelry is facing up. They had to hide all the straps on clothes. There are also two flashes, one other side of the table, creating an even spread of lighting, which hide reflections from the shiny products.”

Tips: “In years past, I would basically stand on the table, hunch over and shoot downward at the products, so it gives your back a workout, but also, you don’t line things up perfectly. There’s no consistency to that. This year, we used a tripod so the camera was locked down the entire time. The variable that was changing was all the products photographed on the colored board.”

Favorite subject to photograph: “Environmental portraits. The one of Trevor Brooks (entrepreneur to be featured in our Jan/Feb issue) is pretty cool. Fia Alvarez (Sept. 2016 issue) was another one. I shot portraits of her outside of her father’s house (Rafael Alvarez).”

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